Lori Brown of Mahomet, IL, still remembers her daughter Amanda bawling her eyes out the first time her team lost a basketball tournament. "Her coach said it was good that she cared, but I didn't like it," recalls Brown. "She was nine!"
"At this age, kids don't get that if something goes wrong, it can go right again," says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a child psychologist and author of Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking. "They're thinking they'll be losers forever," especially given that they're starting to define themselves as "good" or "bad" at something. So what do you do?
Recognize your child's distress
Point out that everyone -- even pros like Derek Jeter -- can have a bad day.
Expose your child to small disappointments
"Kids need to have practice dealing with these situations," says Chansky. "Don't buy them something every time you're in a store. Or let your son know he can't always choose the DVD, because his siblings need a turn. These things do count: Kids become more resilient."
Avoid reprimanding a post-loss tantrum
Let him calm down, and then later ask him how he's feeling. Gently point out that throwing his equipment probably wasn't the best way to deal with the situation.
End on a good note
Whether it's choking up on the bat or passing the basketball more often, help your child figure out how he can do better next time, says Chansky. Odds are this won't be the last time he loses. But it could be the last time he feels really bad about it.